Dan John, a legendary strength coach, has popularized the saying “If it’s important, do it every day. If it’s not important, don’t do it at all.” Wrestling champion, Dan Gable, also popularized this saying as well. Since 2006, this advice has always resonated with me and I have used this mindset as part of my training and nutrition philosophy; if it is good for me I try to do it every day. Kind of like why I take fish oil, drink lots of water, and consume wheatgrass on a daily basis; it’s important!
So, how does this advice apply to the goblet squat? Well, Dan John created the goblet squat so we know he was smart in life (he studied and teaches philosophy!) and in the weight room. And we all need to squat in some way, shape or form each day. You can lose the ability to squat as you age, which can hinder you from performing some of the most basic daily tasks. Don’t you need to sit to your chair, get up, bend down to grab something?
There are so many things that need to take place in order to even squat well. You need good foot mechanics, ankle mobility, strong quadriceps, good hip mobility, functional glute contraction, strong lumbar erectors, lumbopelvic stability, strong thoracic extenders and some good coordination to put this all together in one movement. That’s a heck of a lot of things to be good at!
You Need To Practice
Over the past year and a half, my squat pattern has been compromised. I had hip surgery in June of 2015 on my right labrum to take care of some impingement. Due to my hip issues, my lower back started to flare up. I lost my ability to squat correctly and my hip mobility was lacking. So, I decided to really tackle my squat pattern and the goblet squat was my tool of choice. Since improving my squat pattern, my hip mobility has improved and my low back pain has been minimized. It took time and patience but eventually the pattern came back.
It will take some time to learn the proper squat and achieve optimal depth but just be patient. If you have pain during the squat make sure you work with someone that knows what they are doing, maybe a trainer or medical professional.
If you are someone that can squat correctly with no pain already, awesome! Keep it up by performing the goblet squat each day. If you are not someone who can squat correctly, you need to consider doing so now. If you don’t use it, you lose it. The mechanical characteristics that I described above will erode over time if you don’t squat. This can also affect other movements such as walking, running and picking up objects. Luckily for everyone this erosion of movement quality can be prevented.
Building flexibility, strength and coordination can be difficult, but maintaining these qualities is much easier. If you goblet squat every day you will maintain the ability to squat for years to come. This will require you to grab a weight (not that heavy), and perform 5-10 full range of motion goblet squats each day. Yes, each day, or at least 5 days per week. Think of it just liking brushing your teeth. If you skip a day, you will be able to tell the difference with your teeth. If you skip a day with the goblet squat, your body will know.
Please keep in mind that the goblet squat can have a strength purpose as well as a movement quality purpose. In this case, we are using it to improve movement quality. A weight that is just enough will do. Typically 10-30 pounds for women and 20-50 pounds for men, depending on ability.
You may ask why the goblet squat and not just a basic bodyweight squat? The simple answer is the weight allows your core muscles to activate, allowing you to have better posture and also pulls you down into a better position for full range of motion. Think of it as assistance for good form.
Simple Guide to Squat Better
It is imperative that you perform this exercise correctly. Please use this guide to help you get started.
- Use a dumbbell or kettlebell and tuck it into the upper chest.
- Keep your elbows in tight.
- Place your feet slightly wider than shoulder width apart with a 0-30 degrees of foot flare.
- Pull yourself down into the squat slowly.
- Push your knees out to the sides and have your elbows track inside the knees.
- Push all the weight of your body through the heels, while keeping your full foot on the ground.
- Keep your chest up.
Understanding how to squat is important. Maintaining this movement pattern for the rest of your life is even more important. Take 1-minute each day to keep your body feeling young, healthy and vibrant with the goblet squat. It worked for me and I am confident that it will work for you.